January 30, 2018

Pheasant Island - The 359-Year-Old Condominium Between Spain and France

Pheasant Island is a tiny (about 3,200 square feet) wooded island in the middle of the Bidassoa River between Spain and France.  In 1659, those two countries negotiated the end to a long war there.  The Treaty of the Pyrenees, which established the border between Spain and France and swapped territory between those two countries, was signed on that island.  The treaty states that Spain and France will share that island by each ruling it for a six-month period each year.  This type of joint sovereignty is called a condominium, and Pheasant Island is one of the oldest in existence.  

Spain and France now meet a few times each year to discuss issues of common interest and disputes relating to Pheasant Island.  For example, Spanish fishermen have recently argued that French pleasure boating near the island has a negative effect on their business.  Each country cuts the grass and prunes the trees on the island during its period of rule. Since the river's tides sometimes allow Spanish pedestrians to reach the island, Spanish police also remove illegal campers on the island from time to time.  May the spirit of cooperation allow this 359-year-old condominium to continue for many more years!